Monday, April 30, 2007

YOU'RE learning THAT?

One day a couple of weeks ago I had some spare time in the evening, so I took one of my newer Seforim, the Yismach Moshe, over to shul and perused through it for a little while. Some shmendrick saw me and what I was learning and promptly said, "YOU'RE learning the YISMACH MOSHE?!" I'm sure he was saying that the fact that I'm not anti-Israel, anti-Medina, and certainly not ultra right wing, that it didn't make sense that I was learning a Sefer from the person thought of as the first Satmar Rebbe.

I'd imagine that you may not find a Yismach Moshe in many ultra-Zionist houses, but to me, I don't understand why not. Just because I may not agree with everything or lead my life in a way that a certain Rebbe did, does that mean that there isn't what to gain from his Seforim? I'm sure the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, and Rav Moshe would have all disapproved of my having a TV in my living room and watching secular DVD's and listening to secular music. Does that mean that I shouldn't get their Seforim?

I can mentally aside the fact that Satmars are virulently anti-Zionist when I read the Yismach Moshe's insights into the Torah. If he has a beautiful insight, does that mean that I have to discount it because of his personal Hashkafos? Perhaps some cannot fathom learning something from someone who disagrees with his/her lifestyle so much; but to me, that's silly. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Yismach Moshe wouldn't have approved of ths shmendrick's profession as a lawyer.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Parshas Acharei Mos / Kedoshim 5767

For last year's Dvar, click here.

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-משֶׁה, אַחֲרֵי מוֹת, שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אַהֲרן--בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵי-יְהוָה, וַיָּמֻתוּ. וַיּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-משֶׁה, דַּבֵּר אֶל-אַהֲרן אָחִיךָ, וְאַל-יָבא בְכָל-עֵת אֶל-הַקּדֶשׁ, מִבֵּית לַפָּרֹכֶת--אֶל-פְּנֵי הַכַּפּרֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָאָרן, וְלא יָמוּת, כִּי בֶּעָנָן, אֵרָאֶה עַל-הַכַּפּרֶת.

"And Ad-noy spoke to Moshe after the death of two sons of Aharon, who brought an [unauthorized] offering before Ad-noy and they died. Ad-noy spoke to Moshe: Speak to your brother Aharon that he not come at all times into the Holy [Sanctuary] that is inside of the Curtain, before the Ark-cover that is on the Ark so that he not die, for in a cloud I shall appear on the Ark-cover." (Sefer Vayikra, 16:1-2)

The Nesivos Shalom says that it seems, according to the pesukim, that the death of Aaron's sons (Nadav and Avihu) is connected in some way to the warning to Aaron that he shouldn't come whenever he pleases to the Kadosh haKedoshim/Holy of Holies. However, this connection is unclear and needs further explanation.

The Kli Yakar states on the verse, "that he not come at all times..." (ibid, 2), that the Kohen Gadol is only able to go to the Kadosh haKedoshim with the Koach of Klal Yisrael, and when the people of Israel are sinning acting improperly, it prevents the Kohen Gadol from going in, as he needs to rely on the merits of the rest of the nation for the strength to go to such a holy place. Thus, the Kohen Gadol would only go in once a year (Yom Kippur), because this was the one time a year that all of the Jews weren't sinning and they were acting properly. Again, there is a connection between the Kohen Gadol, one of the most important people in the Jewish community, and the rest of the Jewish people.

There are various sources speaking to the fact that Nadav and Avihu were on an exceedingly high level, and it is unclear why people on such a level would sin so grievously. There are many midrashim that offer explanations as to exactly what their sin was. Some say that they tought a halacha in front of their Rebbe; some say it was because they didn't have wives, etc. However, why do we need these reasons when we know that it explicitly states in the Torah that they brought a foreign fire? We know what their sin was! The Nesivos Shalom explains that the common thread between all of these aforementioned theories as to their deaths is that Nadav and Avihu refused to establish a connection with others around them. By saying a halacha in front of their Rebbe, they were showing that they didn't need that connection due to their stature. By not marrying wives they were showing that they didn't need the certain connection that a marriage offers. And only when they had this mindset of refusing a connection with others could they come to sin so grivously by bringing a foreign fire; they were saying that because of their stature, they should be able to act as they please.

Thus, it is now clear that there is a connection between the death of Nadav and Avihu and the warning to Aharon against coming to the Holy of Holies whenever he pleases. A Kohen who has the mindset of Nadav and Avihu, that they don't need to rely on others, will seemingly also fail to understand the importance of the Jewish people and their connection to the Kohen Gadol in his coming to the Holy of Holies. He'll think that he can rest on his laurels alone and come whenever he pleases, but we know from the Kli Yakar that he can only come when he has the full support of the merits of the Jewish people behind him.

There may be certain people who think that they don't need to rely on others for anything. This can lead to a very lonely life. We should realize that our friends, parents, and others are there for us to rely on for advice and other assistance. This, precisely, was the sin of Nadav and Avihu; that they refused to establish a connection with anyone around them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shauli Mordechai

Just over 10 years ago, a child named Shauli Mordechai of Silver Spring, Md., accidentally fell into the swimming pool in his backyard. The injuries left him permanently attached to machines and put his life immediately at risk. Over the next years, volunteers - mostly teenagers - in the community rallied around Shauli, helping by performing physical therapy exercises with him and bathing Shauli. Shauli became a community project. On Wednesday, Shauli was niftar. Here is a report from someone who attended Shauli's funeral this morning :

There were enough people there to fill pretty much all of the seats in the social hall at Shomrei Emunah [in Silver Spring]. I'm sure that had the funeral been Friday instead, many more people would have chosen to attend from out of town. But the interest was clearly in getting the body to Israel before Shabbat set in, and that forced the funeral to be early today. The Yeshiva sent all of its students, and I saw a large population from the Hebrew Academy as well. Also, pretty much every Rabbi I've seen in either Kemp Mill or White Oak was in attendance.

Rabbi Rosenbaum, Assistant to the Rabbi, led the services. He called on Morah Diasra Rabbi Anemer to say a few words. Of course, because R' Anemer is a kohen, he spoke from outside via microphone. Rabbi Anemer's message was very similar to the one he gave last summer about Dov Klugerman, the high schooler who was hit by a car on his way home from the Yeshiva. We are not to judge the role and importance of a life cut short, but to try our best to accept that it was within the divine plan set forth for this neshoma, R' Anemer said. In this case, though, R' Anemer talked a lot about how much Shauli's life impacted the Mordechais, the community and klal yisroel as a whole. R' Anemer pointed to all the tehillim and prayers that have been said and the chesed that Shauli's life caused. He finished off by thanking Shauli and Hashem for allowing our community to benefit from Shauli's life, teaching us valuable lessons about charity, compassion, resilience and unity.

Then they called up Rabbi Zev Katz, head of the girls Yeshiva. He spoke as a representative of all the parents who have had kids who volunteered to work with Shauli over the years. R' Katz's message was that Shauli helped raise so many children, teaching them the same lessons that R' Anemer alluded to. He wondered where parents and teachers would turn to convey these important lessons now that Shauli has been niftar. He ended off by saying that yesterday at the hospital Aviva, Shauli's mother, asked him if he thought that Shauli would go straight to Gan Eden. R' Katz replied, "No, straight to the kisei hakavod."

Then Jud Lifschitz, a neighbor of the Mordechais, spoke about his experience eight years ago in the hospital while talking to Aviva when the nurses told her that Shauli might not make it through the night. Jud read from his book, Stories for Shauli, and talked about how until then he never truly understood the message behind Shauli's trauma. In fact, Jud said, it was about his strength to fight the odds and to stay alive one more day, and another day, so that people could continue to benefit from being with him just a little bit longer. Jud then asked the audience how many of us are worthy to have helped and enriched so many other people's lives. How many of us live a life free of sin? He concluded by saying that each of us has the ability to think, to speak, and to walk. Shauli didn't. But he still inspired so many people to think, to speak and to walk to perform mitzvot.

Lastly, pediatrician and close family friend, Jeff Bernstein, spoke about how when you're young, you turn to your parents and teachers to learn from them. But as you grow older, you start learning from other people, pretty much everybody. He said that as a pediatrician, he's learned a tremendous amount from his patients. As a father, he's learned from his children. But Shauli allowed him to learn a great deal about both his children and himself.

The overall message here was that even though Shauli's accident left him in this state for the last decade or so, it was part of Hashem's plan to make his neshoma matter. The accident was never mentioned directly, as people cobbled together all the 14+ years as part of the same plan. His life was intended to be what it was, from the start. You could tell from the turnout and the emotional response that existed this morning that people were touched by Shauli's life and they understood that his life - and in turn his death - was full of purpose, dignity and peacefulness.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Anti-Semitism in Germany - Ya Think?

To steal Soccerdad's wording again: If you haven't read William Grim's article at FRONTPAGEMAG.COM, you must. The most striking line, IMO, is when he states, "Young Fritz doesn't have to be overtly anti-Semitic today because his grandfather's generation did such a bang-up job of the Holocaust."

I see this as no different than a yeshiva guy who becomes ultra right-wing, only to come back to the normal, middle-path upon returning and spending time in Anerica. The Nazi's felt as if the Jews were a problem, and in order to ensure anti-semitism would continue for generations, they needed to go the "Katzeh haAcharon/the other extreme" (ie, the Holocaust), to steal the words of the Rambam.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

JIB Awards

Someone must've been nice enough to nominate me for the Jewish Israel Blog Awards (JIBAwards). I'm being nominated for "Best Jewish Torah Blog", and the voting for the first round seems to have commenced. I'm up against some pretty stiff competition in the first round with Hirhurim and Nefesh haChaim in my bracket, but you gotta take the punches as their thrown.

Anyway, if you enjoy the Divrei Torah on this blog then please VOTE FOR ME! I don't have super-high expectations, but I'd like to have a nice showing. Thanks to whomever nominated me, and thanks for reading, and hopefully using, the Divrei Torah.


Friday, April 20, 2007

5th Lubavitcher Rebbe and Sigmund Freud?

I was listening the first to a shiur on the website given by Dr. David Pelcovitz titled, "The State of Depression and the Jewish Community: Its Prevalence and Profound Impact on the Individual, Family and Community." Dr. Pelcovitz starts out with a story, relating that the Tzemach Tzedek, the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe, suffered from some sort of depression and traveled to Vienna to meet with the famous Sigmund Freud. However, after looking up their bios, this seems unlikely being that the Tzemach Tzedek died in 1866, with Freud being born in 1856. Thus, the oldest Freud could've been at such a meeting was 10 years old. While he was undoubtedly a genius in his field, I find this unlikely.

After doing some research online (OK, only a Google search), it seems that it wasn't the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe, but the 5th that did, in fact, meet with Freud. Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn (known as the Rashab) was, apprently, having trouble living in the shadows of his father and grandfather, when he made the trip to Vienna to meet with Freud. A scholarly article published in the "Psychoanalytic Review" opines that the writings of the Rashab changed after meeting with Freud, and suggests that Freud may have been influenced by the Rashab, as well.

An interesting read, even if it is overly psychoanalytic/Freudian (v'ha'mayvin yavin). (Article here)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Parshas Tazria / Metzora 5767 II

וְצִוָּה, הַכּהֵן, וְלָקַח לַמִּטַּהֵר שְׁתֵּי-צִפֳּרִים חַיּוֹת, טְהרוֹת; וְעֵץ אֶרֶז, וּשְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת וְאֵזב.

"The kohein shall command to take for the person undergoing purification two live, pure [kosher] birds, cedar wood, crimson thread and hyssop." (Sefer Vayirka, 14:4)

The Torah tells us here that the first stage in the purification process of the Metzora is for him to bring 2 birds. As the verses continue, we learn that one of the birds to be ritually slaughtered, while the other one is kept alive and dipped into the blood of the slaughtered bird. Rashi tells us that the reason that the Metzora specifically brings birds is because his affliction came in punishment for slander and/or gossip, his purification is brought through chirping animals. Basically, just as the person "chirped"; so too, the birds do so.

R' Shlomo Ganzfried (also the Ba'al Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) in his Sefer Eparyon questons why we need two birds to learn Rashi's lesson. Seeing the slaughter of the chirping bird sends a message to the person that he needs to stop chirping, lest the same happen to him. Why, however, do we need the 2nd bird - the one that stays alive? Rabbi Ganzfried explains that if he were only required to bring 1 bird, we may infer from this that one needs to limit all types of speech. Just as a dead bird totally loses the ability to chirp or make noise, it could be inferred that the remedy for one who speaks Lashon Hara is a limitation of speech. This, however, is why we bring 2 - to teach us that Hashem doesn't want us to limit our speech; our speech needs to be just as "alive" as the second bird. Rather, he just wants us to use our speech for the appropriate things. Without speech, one cannot influence another positively, comfort mourners and do a plethora of other commandments.

Speaking Lashon Hara is bad, but the remedy isn't to lead a live of silence. With anything that is bad in excess, the key isn't to totally avoid that thing. As is a famous theme in the Nesivos Shalom, the preferred path is to be able to take that we we do use and elevate it to a higher level. For example, being an alcoholic is bad. One possible path is to never drink alcohol; the preferred path, however, is to consume in moderation and use it as a vehicle to something higher. L'Chaim!

Parshas Tazria - Metzora 5767

To see last year's Divrei Torah on Tazria - Metzora click here and here.

נֶגַע צָרַעַת, כִּי תִהְיֶה בְּאָדָם; וְהוּבָא, אֶל-הַכּהֵן. וְרָאָה הַכּהֵן, וְהִנֵּה שְׂאֵת-לְבָנָה בָּעוֹר, וְהִיא, הָפְכָה שֵׂעָר לָבָן; וּמִחְיַת בָּשָׂר חַי, בַּשְׂאֵת. צָרַעַת נוֹשֶׁנֶת הִוא בְּעוֹר בְּשָׂרוֹ, וְטִמְּאוֹ הַכּהֵן: לא יַסְגִּרֶנּוּ, כִּי טָמֵא הוּא. וְאִם-פָּרוֹחַ תִּפְרַח הַצָּרַעַת, בָּעוֹר, וְכִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֵת כָּל-עוֹר הַנֶּגַע, מֵראשׁוֹ וְעַד-רַגְלָיו--לְכָל-מַרְאֵה, עֵינֵי הַכּהֵן. וְרָאָה הַכּהֵן, וְהִנֵּה כִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֶת-כָּל-בְּשָׂרוֹ--וְטִהַר, אֶת-הַנָּגַע: כֻּלּוֹ הָפַךְ לָבָן, טָהוֹר הוּא.

"When there is a skin-eruption of tzora'as on a person he shall be brought to the kohein. The kohein shall see and behold! there is an intensely white spot on the skin and it has turned the hair white or there is healthy flesh in the spot of intense whiteness,it is an old tzora'as in the skin of his body and the kohein shall declare him unclean he shall not confine him, since he is [obviously] unclean. And if the tzora'as sprouts on the skin and if the tzora'as covered the entire skin of the [one affected by] the eruption from his head until his feet to the extent that the kohein can see. The kohein shall see and behold! the tzora'as has covered all of his body, he shall declare the skin-eruption to be cleansed, it has turned completely white, he is clean." Sefer Vayikra, 13:9-13

The Torah here starts off by telling us that if a person sees what appears to be a Tzaraas affliction on his skin, he should go see the Kohein to be deemed Tameh/impure. Paradoxically, however, the Torah goes on to explain that in a case where the affliction covers the entire body, the Kohein shall render the person Tahor/pure. One would think that if in a case where only a portion of the body is afflicted the body is rendered impure, certainly, if the entire body is covered the body the person should be rendered impure as well. However, this isn't the case.

The Ibn Ezra offers pashut p'shat/a simple understanding by saying that when the affliction is on the entire body it is only on the surface. However, when it is isolated to one spot it goes much deeper and will actually take much longer to heal than in a case where it covered the whole body. R' Baruch Simon wants to learn out a Mussar Haskeil from this and he says that often times people spread themselves too thin. When you do this, as the term suggests, it's impossible to examine all of those matters at a proper depth. However, when one focuses his strengths on one, isolated, thing at a time (like the Tzaraas affliction only affecting one piece of the skin), one can give proper depth and attention to that matter, leading to that thing have a longer lasting impact. For instance, it is said that the Brisker Rav would say that he was only able to be holding in 1 Sugya at a time. In everything we do in Yiddishkeit, whether it be learning, becoming more religious, etc, one must be sure not to do too many things at once, for the greatest chance that that thing will stick.

Furthermore, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (97a) states that Moshiach will not come until the whole world is converted to the beliefs of the heretics, and it quotes our pasuk of " has turned completely white; he is clean" (ibid 13:13), as the source. Rashi there explains that just as the affliction spread across the entire body and the person is rendered pure, so too when all of the world is converted to heretic beliefs, the world is ready for a Geulah/redemption. It, however, is still unclear why only at this point, when the world has reached such a low level, will it be ready for redemption; and it remains unclear what the connection is to our case of Tzaraas.

Rav Shimon Schwab in his "Meayin Beis haShoeva" explains that Tumah cannot sustain itself; rather, it gets its nourishment from Taharah/purity. Only when there is Taharah in the world is it possible for Tumah to exist - without it, it ceases to exist. Thus, in our case of Tzaraas, when the affliction spreads over the entire body, the Tumah cannot sustain itself, as it has no purity to get nourishment from; but when it is only on a portion of the body, Tumah can exist. He gives another example of this found in the Chumash, when the Miraglim/spies preface their slanderous comments about Eretz Yisrael with the true statement that it is a "Eretz Chalav u'dvash." He explains that the fact that their slanderous comments were made together with true ones allowed the slanderous ones to have such a deep impact. With this we can also understand the statement regarding the Geulah: when the world steeps to such a low level where no Taharah remains, the Tumah will have no nourishmeant, leaving the world ready for the Geulah.

In life, when we make decisions, we should be careful that we are doing things for purely the right reasons. One may do something that, on the surface, may be the right decision; however, he may be doing for some political, social, or other reason. When one justifies his/her actions when there may be some ulterior motives, they are giving the Tumah/impurity nourishment to feed off of. One shouldn't make a decision because it is a popular one in the community, or what looks good, or what people will say. Rather, in order for a decision to be lasting, one should be careful that the decision has a Yanika shel Emes/nourishment of truth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jason Whitlock on Imus

To steal a line from Soccerdad: If you haven't read Jason Whitlock's article on the Don Imus fiasco, you must.

See some of Whitlock's comments on a news program below.

Holocaust Survivor Saved Lives

Like every other person who has a heart, I cannot help but feel for all of those effected in yesterday's massacre at Virginia Tech. And those effected go well beyond those killed/injured and their families; it includes their friends, classmates, floormates, etc. This massacre very well may have effected tens of thousands of lives. No doubt, this will be something that we will remember forever - truly another Columbine.

But what breaks my heart even more was reading that a holocaust survivor was killed in the bloodshed. A man that not even the Nazi regime could murder was shot dead yesterday. And he wasn't shot dead because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time; he was shot dead because he, as the professor, was more interested in saving his students' lives than he was his own. As written in the Baltimore Sun article this morning, Liviu Librescu held the door shut, trying to fend off the shooter, while his students knocked out the windows and jumped to their safety.

May the shooter's soul be dealt with as harshly as the Nazi's who were unable to kill Librescu, and may this holocaust survivor's neshama be an aliyah for all of us.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Yeshivish Gettysburg Address and Pledge of Allegiance

Gettysburg Address

English Version

Forescore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the propisition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this...The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here for the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of their devotion-- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Yeshivish Translation

Be'erech a yoivel and a half ago, the meyasdim shtelled avek on this makom a naiya malchus with the kavana that no one should have bailus over their chaver, and on this yesoid that everyone has the zelba zchusim. We're holding by a geferliche machloikes being machria if this medina, or an andere medina made in the same oifen and with the same machshovos, can have a kiyum. We are all mitztaref on the daled amos where a chalois of that machloikes happened in order to be mechabed the soldiers who dinged zich with each other. We are here to be koiveia chotsh a chelek of that karka as a kever for the bekavodike soldiers who were moiser nefesh and were niftar to give a chiyus to our nation. Yashrus is mechayev us to do this...Lemaise, hagam the velt won't be goires or machshiv what we speak out here, it's zicher not shayach for them to forget what they tued uf here. We are mechuyav to be meshabed ourselves to the melocha in which these soldiers made a haschala--that vibalt they were moiser nefesh for this eisek, we must be mamash torud in it--that we are all mekabel on ourselves to be moisif on their peula so that their maisim should not be a bracha levatulla-- that Hashem should give the gantze oilam a naiya bren for cheirus-- that a nation that shtams by the oilam, by the oilam, by the oilam, will blaib fest ahd oilam.

Pledge of Allegiance

English Version

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Yeshivish Translation

"I am meshabed myself, b'li neder, to hold shtark to the
siman of the United States of America and to the medina which is gufa
its tachlis; one festa chevra, b'ezras Hashem, echad ve'yuchid, with
simcha and erlichkeit for the gantza oilam."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Parshas Shemini

וְאֵת שְׂעִיר הַחַטָּאת, דָּרשׁ דָּרַשׁ משֶׁה--וְהִנֵּה שׂרָף; וַיִּקְצף עַל-אֶלְעָזָר וְעַל-אִיתָמָר, בְּנֵי אַהֲרן, הַנּוֹתָרִם, לֵאמר.

"Regarding the goat of the sin-offering; Moshe made a detailed inquiry and behold! It was burned. He was angry with Elozor and Isomor, the remaining sons of Aharon, saying..." (Sefer Vayikra, 10:16)

Rashi (c.v. Darash): Two inquiries:Why was this one burnt? And why were these eaten?

The source for this topic is found in the Gemara in Zevachim (101a) where it mentions that on the day of the erecting of the Mishkan, 3 Karbanos/sacrifices were brought: one for the inauguration of the Mishkan, one for Rosh Chodesh, and one brought by Nachshon (prince of the tribe of Judah, and was the first to offer his installation donations and offerings; see Badmidbar 7, 12-17). Also, on this day, Nadav and Avihu were killed by the hand of G-d for bringing a "foreign fire." The halacha is that for one who has a close relative die, the period of time between their death and their burial is called a state of "Aninus", and one is exempt from all positive commandments (davening, tefillin, tzitzis, etc.). Thus, Aharon and his sons, on this day, were not allowed to eat from the Karbanos. Nevertheless, the Gemara records that Moshe came to these Kohanim and told them that even though this was the Halacha, that special day warranted and permitted their eating of the Karbanos. Thus, we now understand the Rashi above: if they were permitted to eat from the Karbanos today, why was this one burnt (instead of eating it)? Aharon responded to him that that which Hashem had permitted them to eat were only Karbanos that had to do with the random nature of the day. However, the Karbanos that are always brought (ie, the Rosh Chodesh sacrifice), they weren't permitted to eat.

Later on in the Parsha, the story picks up (10:20), where it says, "And Moshe heard and it was good in his eyes", with Rashi saying that "He admitted [the justice of Aharon's argument], and was not ashamed to say: it wasn't the case that I hadn't learned this, but rather, I learned this, and forgot this." Furthermore, the Medrash states that Moshe went out to the entire camp and admitted that he was mistaken on this matter.

R' Avraham Bokrat in his Sefer haZikaron (perush on Rashi) gives an insight into the different ways humans work when one has an argument with his friend, and then subsequently realizes that he is wrong (similar to Moshe and Aharon's case). The first, and worst reaction is when one refuses to admit to the truth at all. How often do we know that we're wrong, yet still argue our point anyway? How often does someone ask us a good question that we are unclear of an answer to, yet we try to make something up on the spot? The next reaction is to admit to the truth, but while being saddened and/or embarassed to be wrong. How often do we get in an argument and get upset when we realize that we have "lost"? Finally, the best approach, which was Moshe's approach, is to not only admit to the truth, but to be happy by the fact that the truth has been revealed.

There is a famous story with R' Chaim Brisker when he was named a Maggid Shiur in Yeshivas Volozhin. There was a contigency that was opposed to the way he gave a shiur and thought he was only appointed because he married the granddaughter of the Netziv, the Rosh Yeshiva. So, one day, this contingency came to listen to a shiur of his and rule whether or not he was, in fact, worthy of this position in the Yeshiva. He was giving an interesting shiur on a certain position on the Rambam, and in the middle of the shiur, he suddenly went silent. He realized that there was a Mishna that completely contradicted everything that he was saying. However, even though nobody in the crowd understood how this Mishna went against his shiur, he retracted all of his words - this was R' Chaim's love of the truth. He was able to see the truth at a time in which he was being judged on his teaching worth. The contigency who had been opposed to him said that a man who had such a desire for the truth was worthy to be a Maggid Shiur in their Yeshiva.

Duke Rape Scandal

The story we got: three white, rich, good-looking college athletes from a holier-than-thou university kidnap and then savagely rape a helpless, African-American mother.

The story we should've got (AKA the truth): slutty, mentally unstable drunkard with a history of fabrication and criminal offenses wrongfully accuses three innocent college students who are only prosecuted because of a state's attorney looking to help his cause for re-election.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Shevii Shel Pesach 5767

Nothing new this year, but see this post for some of my own personal thoughts on Shevii Shel Pesach. (link)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Which Haggadah Did You Use?

I'm amazed at the plethora of new Haggadahs that seem to be published every year. I'm curious what Haggadahs other people used.

As for me, here's what I used:

Night #1 - Haggadah Berurah, with halachic rulings of the Mishna Berura
Night #2 - Haggadah of the Jewish Idea, by R' Binyamin Zev Kahane (son of R' Meir), with appropriate (inappropriate to some) insights based on his father's works.

I've never been into the "tagging" thing, but I am interested to see what other people used, so I'll tag SephardiLady, Greg, and Jewboy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Neturei Karta Victims of Arson

I woke up this morning to see the headline, "Arson Eyed at Blaze at Synagogue", and I find myself no less enraged after reading that the target was a shul of a known Neturei Karta member and holocaust-denier. First of all, as far as I know, they read the same Torah that the rest of us do, learn the same Shulchan Aruch as the rest of us do, and shtaig at the same Bava Basra that we do. All burnt to a crisp.

I pray that we find out that this was an accident, but it's only natural to jump to such conclusions as the target was a much-vilified group. Yes, they went to holocaust denial conference; yes, they are pictured embracing Ahmadinejad; and yes, they met with Yasser Arafat. And while these despicable actions are a blemish for Jews worldwide, they don't make the Sifrei Kodesh in that shul and less holy. It is a sad day when Sifrei Torah and Sifrei Kodesh are burnt, no matter what type of shul they were housed in.

Finally - why do you think they attend pro-Palestinian rallies, are seen davening for Yasser Arafat, and joining in at a holocaust denial conference? It can't be because their views dictate that they do so - there are many others with their views on Zionism and Israel, yet choose not to publicize them in such a public forum. It is clear that all they want is attention. A group so small that has gained the amount of press that they have must feel a sense of accomplishment. The best way to combat their impurity is to deal with them, but on a less public stage. While they probably aren't pleased that they have to build a new shul, as sick as they are, it wouldn't surprise me if they are happy about the front-page publicity that they're getting now.